NordVPN Onion Over VPN Explained (Quick Guide)
VPNs have become the standard software for dealing with geo-restrictions and shielding users’ data from people or bots with malicious intentions. Using a VPN is a secure way to protect your anonymity and data in transit. The Tor network, on the other hand, utilizes Onion routing to ensure hackers cannot track data back to you.
Combining these two services–a VPN and the Tor network–is called Onion over VPN. This article dwells on NordVPN’s Onion over VPN, a feature that moves your data through the Tor network in a bid to ensure high security and privacy levels.
What Is Onion Over VPN?
Onion over VPN is an advanced technique VPN service providers offer to users in dire need of maximum security and privacy. It involves moving your data through a VPN server and then the onion network before reaching its final destination.
The Tor Browser is the only browser with access to the Tor network. However, VPN service providers like NordVPN don’t compel you to use Tor Browser. You just need to connect to optimized Onion over VPN servers, and encrypted user traffic can move through the Tor network for added security.
How Does NordVPN’s Onion Over VPN Work?
There are two ways you can use NordVPN’s Onion over VPN feature: you can either connect to optimized Onion over VPN servers or connect to a standard server and use the Tor Browser after. The latter option requires you to download the Tor Browser. It is important to understand how using NordVPN’s optimized servers works.
When you connect to a server, the VPN software builds an encrypted tunnel from your device to the server. After this process, the VPN encrypts your data and moves it through the tunnel to the server before connecting to the Tor network via an entry node. The Tor network comprises nodes which are routers that encrypt, decrypt, and relay traffic.
In the Tor network, depending on the path or circuit your data travels through before it reaches the exit node, it is encrypted as many times as there are nodes in the circuit. For example, if there are three nodes in the circuit apart from the entry node, data is encrypted three times. As data passes through each of these nodes, decryption takes place until it reaches the exit node.
Only the exit node can see your data before it is relayed to its final destination. This way, multiple servers mask your original IP address.
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Benefits of Using Onion Over VPN
There are a few benefits to using NordVPN’s Onion over VPN technology.
This is the most apparent reason why anyone would opt to use Onion over VPN. Encryption layers protect your data, discouraging hackers from attempting to access it. The Tor network practically makes it impossible for anyone to track your data because only the exit nodes and entry nodes see the data and your VPN server’s IP address, respectively. You also benefit from the all-around protection NordVPN offers.
Using Onion over VPN raises your anonymity to another level. Even your ISP cannot see you connecting to the Tor network because of your connection to a NordVPN server.
Do You Need Onion Over VPN?
Onion over VPN has a serious drawback: it significantly decreases connection speed. The Tor network, due to relaying data through a chain of multiple servers and encryptions, impacts speed. Using a VPN without the Tor network also affects speed. Now imagine using both a VPN and the Tor network at the same time. Except you have a pretty fast connection speed, you’re likely to have an incredibly slow network.
There are a few situations where using Onion over VPN is necessary.
1. Journalists and Political Activists
Journalists and political activists handle all sorts of data, especially sensitive ones. In order to get it across to people, they need to ensure that no one intercepts the data on its way to its destination. Because Onion over VPN provides a high security and privacy level, it is suitable to use despite its effect on speed. The security and privacy it provides are worth the tradeoff.
2. People in Regions With Heavy Restrictions
Regions like China or Russia, where there are heavy restrictions and monitoring, might require using Onion over VPN to bypass restrictions and stay safe.
3. People Working With Sensitive Data
Preventing internet tracking and ensuring the secure transfer of data is one reason people use Onion over VPN. Anyone working with sensitive data needs this level of protection.
NordVPN’s Onion over VPN is a technology that is only necessary in cases where users need very high security and privacy levels. Regular VPN users who want to have an enjoyable experience unblocking geo-restrictions or securely surf the internet don’t need to use it, except they are happy to accept its effect on connection speed.